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THE MOUSE OF AMHERST by Elizabeth Spires

THE MOUSE OF AMHERST

By Elizabeth Spires

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: March 26th, 1999
ISBN: 0-374-35083-3
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A mouse becomes the perfect poetic companion to the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in this heartfelt daydream from Spires (With One White Wing, 1995, etc.). When the small mouse Emmaline moves into the Dickinson household, she accidentally reads some scraps of verse penned by Emily. Reading poems inspires the rodent to write her own lines on the back of Emily’s paper, and to leave it for the poet to find. Thus the two become “pen pals,” writing verse and sharing it with each other, though rarely face to face. Readers gain a fanciful mouse’s-eye view of Emily’s life at home, where she is visited by an editor, and where she delivers homemade gingerbread to the neighborhood children by lowering a basket to them on a rope. Emmaline’s life is not as quiet as her human mentor’s; she’s chased by a cat, rooted out by a ferret, and eventually decides she must move on. Years later, Emmaline passes on her appreciation of poetry to her mice children, and continues to write. This diminutive little book, with its shy black-and-white line drawings and amusing plot, is an ideal introduction to Dickinson’s poetry. It’s also a strong advocate for the power of the written word, even in the absence of fame or speech, to communicate, to inspire friendships, and to stir the heart. (Fiction. 8-11)